Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Sunday morning I got up feeling discouraged. “Don’t talk to me,” I warned Mike.

We’ve been working earnestly at the Gilbert homestead for 10 to 15 years. I’m so grateful for what we’ve accomplished, but sometimes it just seems we haven’t done enough. Some of what we’ve tried to do has come to naught. Some things don’t move beyond my dreams. I guess that trip to the abandoned yet prolific rhubarb patch brought me down.
My mother and father both had green thumbs, but I must have been gawking at the moon – or, more likely, television -- instead of paying attention. As an adult I stood in my mother’s kitchen and complained about my brown thumb. She pointed to my dad in the back yard. “He’ll stand there and stare for a while,” she said, “and then I’ll see him puttering around with stakes and twine or fertilizer.” She finished by saying that a good gardener is a putterer.

It’s difficult when the growing season is short, when we aren’t always here, when growing things means real work and when you know that failure may be in the cards no matter what you do. So I asked myself, Was it different for the homesteaders?

I think my grandparents grew a decent garden here. A vegetable garden was part of the homesteading equation for successful self-sustained living. Livestock provided plenty of fertilizer and there was always a compost pile. Mike notes that the patch of lawn that lies north of the driveway is the best we have. That’s where the chicken coop used to be.

And when the days were hot, maybe the folks carried a little water to the garden, but I doubt it. Water had to be hauled some distance for house use, so they likely didn’t spend it at the garden. The term “dry land farming” applied to the garden as well. But I believe they seldom experienced long summers. Even I remember soaking summer rains. Today we can’t garden here without watering.

The homesteaders learned by experience and stood on what they learned. For instance, my dad planted the corn about the first of June and never before Mother’s Day – or something like that. Any later than that and the corn might not mature before the first freeze. The homesteaders had to pay strict attention to those “days to maturity” on the seed packets.

And speaking of seeds – Were the seeds hardier in the old days? Sometimes I wonder. I’ve flirted with planting heritage seeds. This year I bought Ferry Morse seeds and won’t do that again.

The homesteaders had their fair share of rodents and other farmyard pests, but I think we see an explosion of mice and voles today because of the years we weren’t actively endeavoring to control them. I remember my dad and brother Chuck occasionally setting about to eradicate a mole, and mice were never far away. But my dad never fenced against the deer. Today we can’t grow anything unless we fence first and you can’t fence against the rodents. The need to fence is really a huge impediment to gardening for me.
Then there’s the crop dusting and the application of herbicides, and the fields now encroach on the yard whereas in the old days there was a buffer between the yard and the fields.

Still feeling sorry for myself, I went down to check the rhubarb starts at the barn. They may never grow there in that clay. Nevertheless, I amended the soil with some 16-16-16 fertilizer which is supposed to break down clay, and then – Oh joy! -- I noticed lilac we planted last year making a strong appearance from the root. Mike trimmed around it, and I poisoned the rodent holes. Maybe it will grow there. And then I found that our gooseberry bush not only has berries but also new growth from the root. Yay! I had fertilized it a little last year and apparently it liked it, so I loosened the soil around it, added compost, and gave it some fertilizer.

Putter on! KW

Monday, May 28, 2012


In the real world, today is Memorial Day. Here where time seems to stand still, it was just another day. I did five loads of laundry and hung the clothes on the line. 

If you look closely at the photo to the left, you can see five doe and a buck grazing in our south field. They were there a long time, then headed out toward the canyon. In the afternoon, they were back. I should have asked what they knew that I didn't.
Mike rode his bike out to Nezperce this afternoon so I took Nellie for a walk. The sky looked okay to me as we walked down the lane.
We're growing a lot of canola in the region now. When the sun shines on it, it just glows. The contrast of the darkening sky while the distant canola field caught the sun's rays inspired this photo.
Here's a canola field in the foreground while the storm develops in the distance.
I would like to have this scene hanging over my mantle.
As I stood in the canola field to take this picture, it suddenly occurred to me that the distant storm probably wasn't too far away, and I thought about my clothes on the line -- way too many to dry in the house. I commenced to walk/run the mile back to the house. Kinda deflating when Nellie passed me by at her fast walk, not even breathing hard.
And here I am, back at the house. It wasn't raining yet, but it did rain fairly hard ten minutes later and I had to deal with some not-quite-dry clothes.

Mike arrived back from his ride, not even wet. KW

Sunday, May 27, 2012


After that long trip to Nevada, it’s time for a rest. We might have come to the farm sooner except that last week the weather turned cooler and rainy after a spell of 90-degree temps the previous week while Mike was gone. I tell him he missed summer.

So Friday morning (May 25), we packed up the Dakota with a bicycle, provisions, the laundry, and Nellie and headed for the farm. We stopped at the nursery in Orofino, sharing pleasantries with the owner over what a lovely day it was – sunny and warm. I bought a bundle of day-neutral strawberries to plant in one of my old raised beds.

But when we arrive at the farm, a thousand feet above the nursery on the river, the warming sun was nowhere to be seen and the wind was blowing with some ferocity. We quickly unloaded the pick-up and went through our arrival routine. Finding the pilot on the wall furnace was still lit, Mike turned it on for some instant heat.
I say we came for rest, but that’s not quite true. We’re planning a celebration for July 14 and we have things to do – like clean the house, improve the yard, and plan, plan, plan.  

Mike didn’t let the wind stop him. He mowed the lawn first thing. And despite the wind and threatening rain, I planted the young strawberry plants.

Saturday morning we took out the old spirea bush. I think it’s really quite old so I was disappointed to have to remove it, but over the last several years it has been in decline, and I noticed rodent activity in the roots. So Mike took a saw to it and it is no more, unless it comes back. And I poisoned the rodent hole.

But Saturday afternoon we enjoyed a new activity with new vistas. A friend has property here at Gilbert where the original homesteaders planted rhubarb. Homesteaders did that, you know. They planted rhubarb because the deer don’t bother it and it tends to be prolific (for other people), providing a family with an easy source of nutrition. Anyway, my friend invited me to this rhubarb grove – and since she and her husband were coming to visit the cemetery, we agree to meet them and gather some rhubarb.

After decorating at the cemetery, the four of us went on to the rhubarb grove where I counted at least five huge rhubarb plants. We pulled beautiful big stalks, dug roots for replanting, and enjoyed the wonderful vistas above Orofino.

And look at this spirea hedge in bloom. My friend said that the vegetation here benefits from the fertilizer that is poured on the field. Hallie would love to hear to that, I remarked to Mike. The vegetation was surely lush, what with the rain and the fertilizer, which is something we just don’t see in this dry place.
After a leisurely visit, our friends left for town while Mike and I went back to the farmhouse. We planted four rhubarb starts down by the pond, and I’m already nervous that it won’t grow in that environment. And at the end of the day I had six quarts of rhubarb in the freezer and six cups waiting in the refrigerator for our next dessert. KW

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nevada Counties - Final Day (at last)

Son, Clint, works for Idaho Power and helps maintain their power generation facilities.  He frequently works extended shifts where he will work 8 or 10 days in a row and then gets several days off.  He was on one of those shifts at this time.  He had been looking for a work truck for some time and found one on Craig’s List that was in Boise.  Since he would not be able to get over to look at it for several days I agreed to look it over on my way back and leave a deposit if it looked acceptable.

I was on the road again at 6:00 a.m. heading west to Boise.  A cold front was moving in and instead of the more normal morning east wind I had the worst head wind of the whole trip.  While the southern Nevada side gusts were worse from the standpoint of safety, this was brutal.  I had to lean down and forward as far as possible on my tank bag and hang on to the handlebars for dear life.  I had to stop four times in the 80 miles to Boise to warm up and rest.  The first stop was at a Rest Area where I went in the restroom and put on another layer of clothes. 

The truck was actually located in a residential area called Hidden Hills about 15 miles north of Boise.  When I finally got there it was like a maze and I had some trouble finding the place.  When I eventually got close I asked directions from a neighbor and found the right house.  The truck was a 2001 Dodge half ton with only 63,000 miles on it.  It was a former Forest Service vehicle and looked to me just like the Plain Jane rig Clint wanted.  I drove it and it seemed tight and well serviced.  I wasn’t able to reach Clint on my phone so I went ahead and committed the deposit.  Getting out of this area was even worse than getting in.  I knew (somewhere) there was a road that would take me directly to highway 55 so I wouldn’t have to backtrack to Boise.  Again I had to seek directions and a lady agreed to take me to the road which she did.

Fortunately Clint did like the truck.  His sister, Hallie, said now we can say, “Here comes ole Ranger Clint”.

The fierce wind stayed with me all the way to Riggins although it certainly wasn’t as severe as on the Interstate that morning.  I picked up a few more caches along the way and got home about 4:30 p.m. lacking 4 miles of having 2,500 on my GPSr.  I guess I should have made a few loops around the neighborhood.

I learned a lot on this trip.  I don’t think I’ll motorcycle through Nevada again and if I do it won’t be by myself.  I love my little Triumph but it’s really not intended to be a touring bike.  I have road side assistance insurance on my dual sport BMW which I frequently use on back country non-paved roads but not on my Triumph.  I will on my next trip.

This journey was like something painted over with dark disaster and then with an added light coat of rescue.  There are some good folks out there and I was fortunate to find some when I needed them.  My little disasters could have been so much worse.  Thanks for reading along and enduring my tale of woe.  M/W

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nevada Counties - Days 5 & 6

I awoke before 5:00 a.m. and turned on the radio to find that it was already 81 degrees.  I knew it was time to “get out of Dodge” so I ate a couple of left over chicken tenders and finished packing.

Next I tackled the ordeal of finding and hauling my gear to my motorcycle.  I couldn’t jump from the 3rd level to the 2nd as I had done the previous evening because my bags wouldn’t fit through the bars.  After much wandering around and asking directions I finally made it to the right level but at a different door from which I had originally entered.  I found a security guard on a bicycle and explained to him that I had parked my motorcycle opposite some numbered storage doors but that didn’t seem to ring a bell with him.  However, after a little more wandering around I found it.  I loaded up, fired up my bike and was never so glad to hit the streets. 

The Nevada Counties Cache was located at the owner’s residence in southeast Las Vegas.  It was several miles away but my 6:00 a.m. start helped with the traffic problem.  I eventually located the very nice residential neighborhood and he had said the cache was located in front of a glass brick window beneath a fiberglass rock.  The coordinates took me to a house with a glass brick window and a rock in front of it.  However, upon closer examination it wasn’t a fiberglass and there was no cache under it.  Looking around I observed that almost all the houses had glass brick windows with rocks in front of them.  Fortunately, I had the address and found the right house across the street and down from where the coordinates took me.  It’s a good thing too because this fiberglass rock was behind a hedge and you couldn’t even see it from the street.  I signed the log book and was soon happily on my way.
I had the opportunity to get several more caches in Clark County but the one I remember best is the one I didn’t find.  It was almost a quarter mile off the highway and required a climb to the top of a mesa.  It was a nice hike through the desert and I saw some lizards and plants that I had never seen before.  I looked for quite a while on top of the mesa and one level down but finally had to give up.

I had no disasters this day although I did have one more DNF that was disappointing since I had climbed up several levels of cliffs hunting for it.  There was little traffic, the wind wasn’t bad and some of the roads were pretty interesting.  After logging caches in the only remaining county, White Pine, I felt a great sense of relief.  I arrived in Eureka around 4:00 p.m. with 322 miles for the day.

Eureka reminded me of a ghost town with people still living there.  The houses and buildings were old and many businesses were closed.  However, Eureka is the county seat of Eureka County and it appeared the town was trying to hold on.  They were preparing for a car show the coming weekend and there were some little art galleries and a museum trying to promote tourism.  I had dinner at a decent restaurant (the only one in town) across the street from my motel.  Ironically, this was the only place I stayed where there were no vacancies.
I got my usual early start the next morning and headed north getting a few caches in Eureka and Elko Counties even though I already had logged some in those counties.  I always like to Geocache on motorcycle trips because it forces me to take breaks and keeps me fresh.

My plan was to spend the night with son Clint in Gooding.  As I got to Wells, NV, and then on in to Idaho I was in the wind once more.  At Twin Falls where I turned west toward Gooding it was a stiff head wind and I was on the Interstate again.  I reached Clint’s place in mid afternoon after having traveled 328 miles but he wasn’t due home from work until six.  As this was my first opportunity to access a computer since I was at Milo’s I spent the time posting all the caches I had done and getting through my accumulated e-mail.

We had a great supper of tortillas that Clint and Elisha had prepared and relaxed around the tv for a while.  We didn’t stay up too late as Clint leaves for work a little after 6:00 a.m.  (To be continued)  M/W

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nevada Counties - Day 4

Ever since my mishap in Carson City the weather had been so warm I hadn’t needed my overpants or heavy shirt which was nice.  It was a beautiful morning and I was heading south toward Tonopah across very barren country on a two lane highway.  I got several interesting caches along the way all with historical information. 

When I tried to start my motorcycle after one of the stops nothing happened.  I turned the key off and then back on again and the starter worked but it gave me a tinge of concern.  On the next stop it took two or three off and on cycles before it would engage the starter.  It progressively got worse until I didn’t turn off the motorcycle when I had to stop for caches.  I knew there would be no help before I reached Las Vegas.
As it approached mid day the wind had again gotten really powerful and gusty from the west.  At one point I saw a dust cloud crossing the road in front of me and rode through it braced against the wind.  Just as I was exiting the dust I was hit hard by a gust from the opposite direction that very nearly took me down. 

I pulled off to a little side road parallel to the highway at a place called Cactus Springs that had once been a little community.  There was a cache nearby but I accidentally killed my engine.  This was the first cache for Clark County so I figured I’d better go get it because I knew when and if I made Las Vegas my time would be occupied with getting my motorcycle fixed and I wouldn’t have time to do the planned caches.  I had a .6 mile round trip hike to get the cache and then I took shelter in the lee of a little abandoned house and had lunch.  I had tried several times to start my bike with no luck.  After lunch I tried some more and finally it made connection and started.

I had planned to visit the tv show site of “Rick’s Restoration” so I headed there as the waypoint was in my GPSr, foolishly thinking they might be able to help me or at least steer me to a Triumph dealer.  When I got there, I kid you not, it reminded me of Disneyland.  It was just a tourist attraction with several little buildings with names of some of the tv characters on them.  The receptionist couldn’t even find a phone book for me.

I dejectedly returned to my bike which was actually parked next door at an art place specializing in different types of art such as metal work and ceramics.  Larry, who was probably in his 60’s, and his wife, Debbie, managed the place.  They let me use the phone and furnished a phone book but I couldn’t find a Triumph dealer or any other dealer who would help me.  Finally, I thought I would see if the battery might be bad even though the symptoms didn’t seem right for that problem.  We found an Autozone within a mile that had the right battery and Debbie took me there after I had removed the battery.  They couldn’t test it because it was indicating only a 13% charge.  It should have been fully charged since I had been running the engine all day so I thought maybe that was the problem after all. 

After we returned and I installed the new battery I had the same problem but to a much lesser extent.  In the meantime, while we were gone Larry had found on the Internet an area shop that worked on Triumphs.  It was 4:30 and closing time for them but Larry offered to guide me to the shop which was miles away and in heavy traffic.  After thanking Larry profusely I pulled in to the back of the little shop and the mechanic found my problem in less than five minutes.  It was a clutch cutoff switch designed to prevent the motorcycle from starting in gear with the clutch engaged.  We took out the switch and bypassed it and I was on my way.

It seemed to take me forever to get back down town to the strip where I was staying at the Imperial.  Of course, I was right in the middle of rush hour traffic.  Now I can tell you, even though I lived in Dallas for four years while in college, I am not a city boy.  I had the devil of a time just finding the right place to park in the parking garage.  Despite all these problems and delays I had traveled 322 miles this day.

It probably took me 10 or 15 minutes lugging my helmet, jacket and bags going up and down escalators and hiking across the casino arena before I got to the front desk.  Then when I finally got there (my arms were aching like crazy from my load) I was greeted by a long serpentine line like you see at airports.  It seemed like it took 45 minutes before it was my turn to check in.  Then I had to trudge back through the casino in the direction I had come to find the right elevator that took me to my room on the 10th floor.  The Imperial is an old casino and I wasn’t impressed with my room even though it was a suite.  No refrigerator, the tv didn’t work and the room was hot.  It did have a nice round tub/shower combo and mirrors over the shower and bed.  That was exciting!

I had been carrying my toilet articles consisting of toothbrush, razor and deodorant in a small fanny pack in the top of my big bag.  As I began unpacking I immediately noticed it wasn’t there.  When I had parked in the garage and taken the bag off I had opened it to get the chain lube out and lube my chain.  It was fairly dark in the garage and I thought maybe I had taken it out to get the lube and missed putting it back.  So I trudged back down to the garage which wasn’t easy.  I was parked on the 2nd level but for some reason it was really difficult to find.  In fact, I finally ended up on the 3rd level, climbed through some bars and jumped down to where my motorcycle was.  It was all for naught because my fanny pack wasn’t there.  I couldn’t stand the thought of not brushing my teeth before turning in but there wasn’t any place in the casino to buy a toothbrush and I wasn’t about to leave.

I went to a little burger/sandwich shop in the casino and had some chicken tenders which weren’t that great.  Then I went back to the room and finished unpacking and lo and behold there my fanny pack was in another pocket of the bag.  I had forgotten that I had moved it when I was rearranging my bag contents.  It’s great getting old.

One of the goals of my trip was to log the Nevada Counties cache which can only be done when you have logged a cache in each county and then the cache owner gives you the coordinates to the cache.  I had been corresponding with him and he agreed to allow me to log his cache which was in Clark County even though at that point I would lack one county (White Pine).  He had given me the coordinates and his address and I had entered them in my GPSr.  While I was waiting in line to check in and tried to pull up the waypoint I discovered that it was not there.  It must have been lost with the other Nevada caches.  I thought I had kept his e-mail in a “Keep Awhile” folder but I had no access to a computer.  So I called Kathy and walked her through getting into my e-mail and that folder.  Sure enough, it was still there and she was able to give me the coords and address.  With that good news I showered and hit the sack and my reflection from the ceiling didn’t even keep me awake.  (To be continued)  M/W

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nevada Counties - Day 3

At 6:00 a.m. and with a worried mind I pulled onto the Interstate heading for Fernley, NV, with faint hope the motorcycle shop there would be open on a Monday.  On the way I picked up three caches for Churchill County.  I pulled off the Interstate at Fernley into one of the typical commercial areas you see next to an Interstate exit.  The only thing that appeared to be open at that time of the morning was a big Walgreen store.  A man at the photo center who apparently was a motorcyclist too was very helpful.  He knew right off that the motorcycle shop was closed on Mondays.  However, he had a phone book for the Reno-Sparks area and the first shop with a big ad that I called was open.  It was a KTM shop but they had tires in stock that would fit my Triumph Street Triple R.  It was about 45 miles away but it would take me off my planned route.  At that point it was the least of my concerns.

I did make it to the shop and got my new tire paying only about twice as much as I would have if I had removed the wheel myself as I usually do and had one of the new ones sitting in my shop in town installed.  Hey, I’m not complaining though.  At that point the sun was shinning, I was safe and I was a happy cacher again.  I was feeling so good I called the motel in Tonopah and reinstated my reservation.

As mentioned earlier I was now off my route which had called for turning north at Wadsworth to see Pyramid Lake and get Washoe County.  It was a loop up to the lake and back down to Reno.  Since I was at approximately where the loop ended I decided to go in reverse but just do half the loop and double back to Reno where my planned route would take me south.  That way I would get to see the lake and also take care of Washoe County.  It would mean that I would miss four caches planned for Lyon County but I had two more chances later where my route would again cross into the county.  Due to time constraints it was a risk I felt I had to take.

I made the trip to Pyramid Lake and found a couple of caches and had one DNF.  The lake was beautiful and I had lunch there.  After lunch I retraced my route back to Reno and then headed to Carson City.

On the way to Carson City I went over the Geiger Summit in Storey County and got a couple of nice off road caches along the way.  Both caches required some hiking, one being a pretty good little climb.  One cache description noted that the cache was under something you don’t see much in Nevada – trees.  This was a good motorcycling road with lots of curves and beautiful views.

Carson City is the capital of Nevada and I encountered the most traffic by far to date.  As I was traveling through town in the far left lane of a four lane road I suddenly felt my rear wheel grab and bring me to a stop.  I immediately thought the wheel seal on the newly installed tire had broken and that I had a flat.  I tried to pull more to the side of the road but it wouldn’t budge.  I got off my bike and found that my bag had come off the back and had been sucked up between the wheel and frame.  A man behind me had seen the incident and stopped with his hazard lights blinking to block the traffic behind me.  He got out and helped me extract the bag and get it to the far right side of the road.  I don’t know why this happened unless part of some overpants or a shirt that I had bungeed to the bag may have gotten caught in the wheel and pulled the whole works down.  It had gotten so hot that I had taken those off.  Fortunately there was a little mall just across the street with a True Value Hardware store.  My bag was pretty severely damaged but the grommets that held the bungees in place were still in tact so I bought a package of bungees from the hardware store and was able to made repairs.

I continued picking up three more counties but I was concerned about Lyon County because I had only two chances to get a cache having missed the earlier opportunities due to the tire purchase detour.  To get the first one meant I would have to slightly reverse my direction and head to Yerington which was northeast.  First I had to get through the tourist town of Virginia City.  Of course there was lots of traffic there.  My route out of Virginia City was down highway 395 to highway 208 where I would turn left going up to Yerington.  However, just out of town there was a flashing sign saying the road was closed Mon-Thur from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was just after 2:00 and I was already way behind schedule.  I found a man nearby and he showed me the truck route which solved that problem.

There continued to be a lot of traffic and my GPSr seemed to be acting a little crazy in giving me directions to the cache in Yerington.  Finally I came to a sign that said “Mono County”.  There is no Mono County in Nevada.  I was entering California!  Well, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds.  I had missed the turn to Yerington just a few miles back and that had confused my GPSr somewhat.

Oh, did I fail to mention that the wind had picked up to almost gale force?  Well, at least for the 15 or 20 miles to Yerington it was mostly at my back and that was nice.  It was about 5:00 p.m. when I got to Yerington and the cache was a micro with a hint that wasn’t helpful.  I looked for a long time with no luck so there was nothing to do but give up and hope I could find the last one on my list.  It was about 20 miles down the road just inside the county line.  It required a hike up a hill of about .2 of a mile but it was nice to get off the bike for a while.  I was so grateful to find the “Horned Toad Hideout” that I left my only Travel Bug there.  It was a neat cache.

As I reached Walker Lake north of Hawthorn the wind was UNBELIEVABLE.  I stopped for gas at a lonely gas station and proceeded south still hoping to make Tonopah that night.  The wind was a gusty cross wind from the west and many times would knock me almost all the way over to the other lane.  I’ve never been more scared on a motorcycle.  After 4 or 5 miles it occurred to me that it was unlikely that my bag could stay on in that wind.  I reached back and, sure enough, it was gone.  I turned around and slowly made my way back to the gas station looking for the bag.  The wind was blowing so hard I figured the only thing that would stop the bag was a fence.  No luck, so I parked at the station behind an 18 wheeler for a little shelter.  I got off my bike and there the bag was hanging off the back.  You can’t believe how relieved I was.

After reattaching my bag and taking a rest in the convenience store I slowly preceded again.  I even got passed by a truck pulling a horse trailer.  Even though it was getting dark I made three stops along the lake shore to get the caches in Mineral County.  I knew at this point there was no way I was going to make Tonopah.

I did make Hawthorn at 9:00 p.m. and got a motel there.  I called the motel in Tonopah and explained my situation and they were very understanding and didn’t charge me.  I was bloodied but not beaten.  (To be continued)  M/W

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nevada Counties - Day 2

In addition to worrying about the caches escaping from my GPSr I was concerned about the temperature starting out the second morning.  Milo and I had checked the weather report the night before and it was supposed to be 40 degrees.  That’s really cold on my motorcycle riding 75 mph on the Interstate into a headwind from the east.  I was on the road at 6:00 a.m. and fortunately the temperature was closer to 50 than 40.  Nevertheless, I did have the headwind and it was cold.

As I was heading toward Mountain Home I felt a bump on my left foot and I immediately knew what it was.  Sure enough, I looked down and saw my GPSr was missing from its clip on the handlebars.  Deja vue all over again!  Two years ago I lost one off my motorcycle in Oregon.  I stopped as quickly as I could hoping that since it hit my foot on the way down it may not be smashed to smithereens as the other one was and providing someone didn’t run over it before I could find it.  I got off my bike and to my immense relief it was hanging by the cord about six inches from the pavement thanks to the L shaped connector that I hate.  I have a new tank bag and it kind of pushes against the unit when it is in the clip making it release.  The rest of the trip I was very careful to make sure it stayed securely clipped.  

I had a list of the caches sorted in the order of my approach and also by county in the map compartment of my tank bag so I could see them without stopping.  I use this method to navigate as my GPSr will give me turn by turn directions.  My route took me to Mountain Home before turning south on highway 51 which would turn to 225 when it crossed into Nevada.  I stopped for a couple of caches before hitting the Nevada line – one to warm up and the other at Bruneau to get gas.  I wasn’t particularly low on gas but it was going to be a long way before the next town which was Elko.  The Bruneau cache was a neat bird house cache called “Buckeroo” that was conveniently located right behind the gas station.

This stretch of highway 225 was probably the most fun one of the whole trip from a motorcyclist point of view.  It was hilly, curvy, scenic and had virtually no traffic going up to Wild Horse dam where I logged my first Nevada cache of the trip.  This was Elko County and my goal was to get at least two caches, and preferably three, in each county.  I had already logged a cache or two in Elko and Eureka counties the year before on the chukar hunting trip but I wanted to do them all on the motorcycle.

At Elko I hit the Interstate and headed west toward Winnemucca and down to Lovelock which was to be my destination for the day.  I think I had a bit of a headwind but it was so minor compared to what I encountered later in the journey that it doesn’t stand out in my mind.  Crossing this part of Nevada (like most of the state) is flat desert with distant bare mountains on either side and about the only vegetation is sagebrush.  There are also some sagebrush-like bushes with thorns which makes for lots of fun searching for caches in those.  There are some shallow lakes and alkali fields along the way to somewhat break up the monotony.  I logged a half dozen or so caches along the way picking up Eureka, Lander, Pershing and Humboldt counties with only one DNF (did not find).

I arrived hot and tired at 4:15 at the motel where I had a reservation in Lovelock, having covered 445 miles which was my longest day in miles.  I was greeted in the office by a note saying “Be back at 5:15”.  I can tell you I was not in the mood to wait around an hour so I left a note telling them so and went across the street to another old motel.  It turns out this 90 year old motel (The Super 10) had the same owner.  However, the old Texas hillbilly manager was there and the price ($37) was the same.  Although it was old, it was well built, well maintained and comfortable.  There isn’t much in the way of restaurants in Lovelock but I did get a good club sandwich at McDonald’s.  My lunches each day were eaten on the road and consisted of smoked salmon or sardines.  I had not slept well the night before at Milo’s and after this long day on the road I went to bed at 8:30 and slept like a log.

To backtrack a bit, at one of my stops before Lovelock I had noticed my rear tire was going fast and had worn down to the cord in a spot or two.  Interstate speeds of 75 to 80 mph in the heat can take its toll on a motorcycle tire.  The fact that I slept so well with this worry can attest to how tired I was.  Of course, there is no motorcycle shop in Lovelock.  It was Sunday anyway, and most motorcycle shops are closed Monday as well.  With these problems looming I knew I would not be able to make Tonopah the next night so I called and cancelled my motel reservation so I wouldn’t forfeit my fee.  The closest town with a shop (1) was Fernley and it was about 45 miles away.  Next were Sparks and Reno which were about 45 miles beyond that.   

The second picture is the base of Wild Horse dam and the last one is the Super 10 Motel in Lovelock.  (To be continued)  M/W 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nevada Counties – Day 1

Each summer of the last three years I have made motorcycle trips to log a Geocache in each county of a state.  First was Idaho, then Oregon and last summer Washington.  This year was to be Nevada.  I had been down last fall on a chukar hunt and thought I’d like to see more of the state.  As Nevada has only 17 counties it seemed like a good candidate for my first state this far from home.  My adventure was to be a seven day trip beginning Saturday, May 12th.  All the other states I had been able to break up into more than one trip but because of the distance from home I decided to attempt this in one haul.  This journey was truly “to hell and back”.
Thursday evening, May 10th, daughter, Hallie, arrived by bus for a Mothers’ Day weekend visit.  We had a good visit and Friday I made a 40 mile bicycle ride since I would not be on the pedal bike for a week.  It was cool the next morning so I waited until 8:00 a.m. before leaving.  It was about 50 degrees here but I knew it would be much cooler going over the higher elevation of the Camas Prairie.  That was the case, and I had planned two Geocache stops in the first 30 miles to warm up.  I made one near the bottom of the Culdesac grade and another at the top.

My plan was to spend the first night with son, Milo, in Boise.  When I made a stop for a cache in New Meadows which is about half way, I discovered my bag had fallen off the side of my motorcycle and was hanging there against the hot muffler.  I hate to admit it but it was entirely my own fault.  I’ve only used the bag twice and not since a year ago on my WA trip.  I had failed to fasten two bungee cords that were hidden in a compartment on the bottom of the bag.  The only damage done was a hole burnt through a small pocket in the back and I hadn’t lost anything.  The rest of the trip to Boise was pleasant enough and I took a little different route going through Emmett to avoid the Interstate.  I hadn’t been on that route since my Idaho trip three years ago.  I picked up a few caches along the way.

I got into Boise around 4:00 p.m. and Milo and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  When we got back I decided to log the caches I had done on the way down on the website .  That’s when I discovered that my GPSr had apparently had a hiccup and all of my Nevada caches were gone.  I had used GSAK (Geocachers’ Swiss Army Knife) software to manage the caches and they were consolidated to one file in my GPSr which is like a storage device.  The file was still there but nothing was showing when I would look where the caches were supposed to be.  Fortunately I had a printed spreadsheet with all the caches listed.  After Milo and I had a Papa Murphy’s calzone we spent about two hours manually reentering all the approximately 70 caches.  I was very worried about how the GPSr would hold up the rest of the journey.  I had a simple eTrex unit as backup but it had no mapping capabilities nor would it give me a readout of the caches.  This trip is off to a great start.   

 First picture is of my departure, second one at a cache south of White Bird and the last of Milo and me.  (To be continued) M/W

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Mike left last Saturday (May 12) to geocache Nevada, leaving Nellie and me at home. Hallie was here when he left, and we took Nellie and went to the farm for the weekend. Nellie was happy while Hallie was with us, but then Hallie said good-bye and left and Nellie commenced to mope big time.

When an adult human mopes, you can deal with it somehow. “What’s wrong?” you ask. “Was it something I said (did, didn’t do, spent)?” In my experience, you can even reason with a child. “Look – Daddy’s gone for a while. Let me show you the calendar and we’ll count the days until he comes back. Meanwhile, how about some ice cream? And the next time Daddy calls, you can talk to him.”

But it’s a real trial when the moper is the dog. You can’t reason with a dog. Nellie understands certain concepts, such as walk, dinner / food, cookie, lick this bowl, kennel, brush teeth, and Mike is gone. But she doesn’t understand time concepts. She judges each moment on its own merits, not altogether a bad thing until something isn’t right with her world. And things are not right with Nellie’s world if her master is gone.
But Nellie does get something out of what I say. “Mike will be home soon,” I said yesterday afternoon “You’ll hear him coming on his motorcycle. Eeeeeerrooooooow - putta, putta, putta.” And with that she went to the sliding glass door and stood there watching for quite some time, but when Mike didn’t show, she begged for a walk. We were just leaving the house when Mike roared in.

Oh joy! Oh happiness! All was right in Nellie’s world with Mike’s return. After the initial excitement she became nonchalant, as if to say, “I knew he’d be back. What’s the big deal? You humans make way too much of this stuff.” KW

Thursday, May 17, 2012


On the previous post, Leah asked me to tell about the microfilm research. While the research didn't include the individuals in the photograph, I'm starting with this four-generation portrait to help anchor the genealogy. This picture was taken when my mother, Dorothy Portfors, was six years old -- so, about 1916. Standing behind Dorothy is her mother, Nina Mae Sanders Portfors. Seated to the left in the picture is Eliza Brophy Stinson, Mother's great-grandmother, and to the right is Alice Mary Stinson Sanders, her grandmother.

My second cousin Wendy, the genealogist with whom I share the Stinson / Saunders (Sanders) genealogy, mentioned to me that a Stinson cousin passed away in Lewiston in 1922. “An obit would be nice,” she said, and I found myself volunteering to research that. I called the Lewiston Tribune and learned that back issues from 1893 were available on microfilm only at the Lewis-Clark State College Library.  Somehow, though, I could always think of some reason not to visit the library all by myself to do something I’d never done before. So, when Hallie said she was coming to spend Mother’s Day weekend with me, I asked her to accompany me to the LCSC Library to begin family obit research. Wendy had provided a list of missing obituaries and I marked three as priorities.

The staff at the library was very friendly and accommodating. They pulled the three microfilms in question and showed us how to use the reader. They even came by once or twice to check on us.

We started with 1915, looking for an obit for Roy Stinson who died at the age of 25. Roy was the only child of Thomas and Grace Stinson, Thomas being the son of Great-grandmother Eliza Stinson (see photo). Another way to put it -- Roy was a cousin of Nina Portfors. The family no longer remembers why Roy died at that young age, and I kick myself because years ago someone undoubtedly told me and I just don’t remember. When I think of all the family that bridged the gap between Roy and me, it just seems impossible that I can’t find out what they all knew. No, Hallie and I didn’t see a thing about Roy Stinson in the paper we researched (which doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there). Neither were we successful in finding an obit for the cousin who passed away in 1922.

Then we went to 1945 because I was certain I could find an article / obit for my mother’s first husband, Fairley Walrath.  Since Fairley was an employee of Potlatch Forest, Inc., a prominent regional industry, I knew the woods accident that took him would be news of the day. Yes, the article had prominent placement on the front page of the May 27, 1945, issue. The disappointment was that it was obviously hastily written and full of errors. For instance, the article reports that he was the son of Harry L. Walrath and the late Mrs. Walrath, but his mother was very much alive, bless her heart. And Harriet points out that both her name and Joni’s were misspelled and the wedding date was incorrect. And then there’s that lame statement by Potlatch that maybe he didn’t hear the cry of “timber.” No wonder the family didn’t save this obit.

Researching for the three obits was enough for one day, but we went on to Lewiston’s Normal Hill Cemetery to seek the Stinson graves. These are "Woodmen of the World" gravestones.

Years ago Mike and I lived half a block from the Normal Hill Cemetery, and one day as I was exploring I came upon these Stinson graves and recognized immediately that they were family. I told my parents and discussion ensued. At that time I had never heard of the “Woodmen of the World” organization, and my dad explained. And I know that we talked about Uncle Tom and Aunt Grace, and Mother undoubtedly said why Roy died. That Memorial Day, we included the Stinsons on our list for bouquets. But I don’t remember the details of our discussion.

Do you know anything about the Woodmen of the World? I’ve already researched online. I’d like to hear from someone who is a member. KW